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on the border line between the US and Mexico

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Migrant Smuggling Resulting in 53 Deaths was Allegedly a Cartel del Noreste Operation

"Socalj" for Borderland Beat

On June 27, 2022 65 migrants were found in the back of an abandoned, cloned semi-truck trailer. 53 died of heat stroke.

The 53 migrants who died of heat stroke and dehydration inside a trailer truck abandoned on the side of a highway in San Antonio on Monday each paid upwards of $3,000 for the trip, according to two sources with knowledge of the agreement.

The smugglers advertised a “three-month warranty” to the victims, and promised to leave them at a “safe” drop-off in San Antonio, the sources said. Both asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitive nature of the story. “Three months warranty. Three months of attempts” promised a WhatsApp message sent to a private group chat of migrants seeking to reach the U.S.

The message was shared with VICE World News by a smuggler who works for the Cartel del Noreste, one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas. The smuggler said the cartel oversaw the transportation of the 65 migrants found in the trailer truck.

More than half of the trailer’s occupants appear to have died, including five children, according to News4SanAntonio. Sixteen people were taken to nearby hospitals for medical attention when the trailer was discovered in the late afternoon of June 27, and seven have died since. Nearly all the victims who have been identified appear to be from Mexico and Central America.

The owners of a South Texas trucking company said that the trailer truck transporting the migrants was “cloned” to look like theirs. Multiple arrests including that of the driver of the tractor-trailer truck, who was high on meth at the time of the arrest have been made.

Cartel del Noreste's Migrant Smuggling Operations

Monday’s tragedy unfolded after a city worker heard a cry for help shortly before 6 p.m., Police Chief William McManus said during a press conference. The patients who were transported to a hospital were suffering from heat stroke and exhaustion, Fire Chief Charles Hood said at the same conference. “It was a refrigerated tractor-trailer, but there was no visible working AC unit on that rig.”

"Today the Cartel del Noreste takes migrants to their so-called safe houses, which are more like hideouts or in vehicles, and leaves them abandoned, without water or food," said Greg Burwell, deputy commander of the Border Patrol, Laredo Sector, to Grupo Imagen.

Similarly, Burwell clarified that because of the high temperatures, in which the trailer was supposed to go, "people die after 7 hours without water, especially if they are walking because they are sweating and they run out of water faster," said.

For her part, Gloria Chavez, chief of the Border Patrol in El Paso, indicated that these criminal groups put people's lives at risk. "Criminal organizations continue to risk the lives of migrants by exposing them to dangerous conditions and ruthlessly abandoning them," said Gloria Chavez, chief of the Border Patrol in El Paso.

The tragedy is the worst migrant-smuggling-related accident on U.S. soil in recent history. Authorities are trying to piece together what happened and why the driver abandoned the vehicle and its occupants. On Tuesday, President Joe Biden said the death of the migrants in the trailer truck was "horrifying and heartbreaking," and that the incident emphasized the need to go after the smuggling networks that were moving the victims.

The Cartel del Noreste’s fee started at $3,000 for Mexican citizens already in the northern Mexico city of Camargo, across the border from the city of Rio Bravo, Texas, the smuggler said. The price rose to $8,500 for migrants seeking transportation from Guatemala and Honduras. The migrants paid in installments, with the final payment due at the drop-off point in San Antonio.

“We do a good job,” the smuggler said, defending his organization’s operations. “We leave them with their families.”

A migrant from Zacatecas, Mexico, who said he was smuggled into the U.S by the Cartel del Noreste earlier this month, confirmed the broad outlines of the smuggler’s account to VICE World News. He paid $3,000 in two installments to be smuggled from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico to San Antonio, he said. He was snuck into the U.S. in a private car and dropped off at a “safe house” in Laredo, Texas. There, he waited for more than a week as more migrants arrived. Once 30 migrants had arrived, the smugglers stuffed them into a tank attached to a truck.

“There were around 30 people— mostly men. It felt really crowded and hot inside. We were lucky,” said the migrant, who wasn’t sure what kind of tank it was. The smugglers dropped the migrant off in San Antonio, where relatives picked him up, the migrant said. He didn’t want to share details about the drop-off site for fear of being identified.

San Antonio is 155 miles from the Mexico border, and a major transit route for Mexicans and Central Americans being smuggled into the U.S. President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that the death of more than 50 migrants was caused by human traffickers and that the incident underscores the need to fight against the “criminal industry” of smugglers.

Immigration authorities in the U.S have reported more than 1.2 million encounters at the U.S-Mexico border so far this year, a number that is being inflated by people making repeated attempts to cross the line. In May alone, 239,000 migrant encounters took place at the US-Mexico border, setting a new record high for illegal crossings, according to CBP figures. The previous record was set in March 2020, when 220,000 were registered. Under current immigration policies, it is not uncommon for an individual to be encountered multiple times in a single month.

Source VICE, Radio HRN/Grupo Imagen


  1. I will be damned a cartel was behind this operation. This cartel now has nationwide attention in the USA. Obrador has some explaining to do, I hope the US can hold the government responsible, since Obrador let's the cartels get away with murder.

    1. Please!! You have high expectations for something that has been going on for decades and just jeeps getting worse by the day

    2. Trailers with 53 dead migraine have been going for decades, lol this is the first one that sticks out in Texas.

    3. There's been several in different states over the decades.

    4. Have you heard of the house of death in Cd Juarez. ? Have you heard of Fast and Furious? What did the USA did to punish those agents for what they did ? You know how it came to light ?

    5. 1:11 what does the house of dead have to do we dead people in a trailer?

    6. "Well "waddabout" the things they do, why don't you question them about that." Whataboutism

    7. You see I doubt cartel del noroeste is buying federal politicians, their power is local and are at war with Mexican Arm forces everyone knows that .

    8. Tejano rancheros love illegal temp help, the pay is half the going "federal" minimum wage limit of about $7.50 USD and a chance to go on to a later on, immigration officers are happy to have soo many dangerous pollos to hunt...

  2. Chances are the ones who passed away since the find, would have a very significant amount of permanent brain damage. This is essentially what happens when you are cooked alive. Horrid what these men endured, irregardless of your border stance.

    1. The good thing FBI was able to investigate rather quickly. Caught the driver trying to blend in with the migrants, others involved and link which cartel was behind it.
      Great job law enforcement.

    2. @Ms H: Yes! You make a good point about brain damage from heat... Who is going to treat the victims and where...and who "pays" ? The aftermath of this tradgedy will make for an interesting bit of journalism.
      P.S. In part, I blame our American Democaca Party politicians for being indirectly involved in human smuggling and addictive drugs from Mexico. Of course, hard to prove, but to me, it is obvious.

    3. 2:23 obviously, you don't know shit...

  3. Did Rambo ever make it across?


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